Not being one to carry a grudge, and understanding that all human beings are plagued by strange foibles and flaws, Selectman Lauretano did bring doughnuts for the Town Hall employees on Wednesday, Feb. 20. The employees ate them all, as usual.
I cannot help but wonder whatever possessed them to submit their “Statement” to the Lakeville Journal not only with their signatures, but their public official titles indicated. For a group that so desperately seems to desire anonymity and not to be involved politically, they acted precisely so as to bring about the exact opposite result. Perhaps it is just as well since it presents me with the opportunity to explain a little piece of reality to them.
They are not simply employees. They are public employees. Not only are they public employees, but most of them are important public officials, with legal municipal responsibilities bearing upon the proper functioning of Salisbury’s town administration and the welfare of our townspeople. The Town Clerk and Asst. Clerk, Assessor and Asst. Assessor, Tax Collector, Recreation Director, Dir. Senior Services, Recreation Director, Town Grove Manager are all very public and official positions. As a result they are considered to be public figures, subject to public scrutiny and criticism by individuals and the media, which have almost total legal carte blanche to question and criticize them with impunity.
The nine employees that signed Rachel Lamb’s Manifesto, (aka the Statement) may also be deemed to have deliberately sought out notoriety in their official capacities since they included their public job titles with their signatures. They fall under the Celebrity exemption in libel and slander law. Something tells me that they have never realized their unique status and that they imagined they were private individuals in private employment, actually protected by slander and libel laws. No such thing ladies and gentlemen, you are public figures with little to no legal protections. Welcome to the club of perfect targets.
On top of all that, the nine signatories to the Manifesto, did not have the common sense to make sure they had their facts straight as they merrily engaged in the AFSCME Union and Democratic Town Committee’s smear campaign against Selectman Mark Lauretano. A man who has never done anything to harm, frighten or intimidate them, always treating them with kindness, courtesy and respect.
They relied on their inter-office gossip, antipathy to a draft COE still being developed and not much different from the one Vail and Morrill are proposing (in which, by the way, only Selectmen are exempt from any investigations and enforcement), flawed memories and the assumption that no one would possess any documentation or the intelligence to effectively respond to their character assassination effort. As a result they all made fools of themselves, the town offices they hold and of the complicit Lakeville Journal. Oops.
One can only wonder which among them may have not really wanted to sign on to Rachel Lamb’s Statement but were intimidated. Intimidated not only by pressure from their fellow union members and colleagues, but also the lurking presence of Curtis Rand and Jim Dresser, who might interpret their refusal to sign as an indication of betrayal of them. We will never know since they all have clearly tucked themselves like nine peas into the same pod.